Sewing a little girls’ lace overlay bodice

tutorialWhile sewing a lace overlay over a strapless bodice is quite involved for a woman’s dress, sewing one for a little girl is pretty simple. In the past, I’ve only made dresses like this for women and they involves creating a structured, boned corset under a lace overlay. It is very time consuming! But not so for this method of getting the same look in a little girls dress.

I decided to post a tutorial for this sewing technique because I could not find one single post for how to do this complicated looking, but very simple technique! So here you go!dressbodice

This project was designed using the basic pattern from Liesl Gibson’s Building Block Dress Book as a base. I am using Alencon lace and silk taffeta for the bodice and overskirt. The underskirt will be netting trimmed with lace. Gigi basically wanted a mini bridal gown. Personally, I wanted to make something simpler and more classic, but Gigi really wanted something princessy. So that’s what we are doing! #pushoverback

The first thing was to create the pattern piece I needed for the lace underlay.tracebodice

After creating a fitting toile, I traced the basic front and back bodice pieces. Then from the armhole sleeve notches, I created the new style lines for my faux strapless top underneath. I made the style lines higher than usual to ensure modest coverage for church. I’ve seen lots of these little girls dresses online with a lower sweetheart shape and that can be done, too. Just Google ‘girls lace first communion dress’ and you will see lots of dresses with this look. Like this one below.349ad42a4895a619ddda3dd07f78347aA little too grown up, I think! But you get the idea how you can play with neckline shape, etc.draweunderbodicedesign It will actually be sewn to the lace overlay at the side seams, the bottom and sewn down along the top edges, and not be a separate freestanding piece.  I added one half inch seam allowances to the top edges because I will be pressing interfacing to those areas to give the top more stiffness and structure. I will then fold over the seam allowances. I will add a hand sewn in lining to this lower portion of the bodice later later to cover the raw edge.addISAtotop

I then cut out my pattern pieces. I sewed the darts and folded over 1/2 inch at the top edge lines. Then I ironed a strip of interfacing to the seam allowance, clipping into the curves, and pressed it.foldoverSA

I set those pieces aside and cut out the lace bodice pieces.

I’m not using my usual lace applique seam sewing method on this dress since I only have a couple of days to make it.  But I did try to match up the lace embellishments at the side seams. I will be sewing buttons down the center seam later, so I decided it didn’t have to match there. But maybe I should have matched the embellishments at the center back seam instead. But too late! I don’t have enough fabric now!aliognsideseamsoflace

I also am not sewing the darts into the lace bodice pieces. While it is possible to sew invisible darts in lace using the applique method, it is too involved for me on this project. So I trimmed off the dart amount at the side seam waist instead, and blended it up so the waist will be as small as the underlay will be. Not something I would do for an adult who needs shaping under the bust.

Once the lace bodice pieces are cut out I will stay stitch the neck edges. Then I will place the under bodice pieces under the lace overlay and carefully smooth out the silk under the lace. I pin the top edge from the armhole notches. the side seams and the bottom. Then I sew around those edges, trying to avoid the fabric under from shifting or buckling. This can also be sewn by hand, to ensure less shifting.alignunderlace

Once that is done I will have my three bodice pieces. The front and two back pieces. They are sewn together now, and I can continue making my dress.lastfitting!

One last fitting….


….add lace sleeves……back

Sew a zipper in. I wish I had sewed an invisible zipper now. Oh well, the dress needs to be done today, so no time for regrets. It’s made with love and that’s what matters. Her bridal gown will be perfect, though!

Then after the zipper, I added a bias neck binding….bianneckbinding

Come back next week to see the completed dress!

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  1. says

    The dress is gorgeous! You are a wonderful Mom! I wish I could sew as well as you do. I am learning slowly and watching you is helping me tremendously. Thank you. Kindly, Barb

  2. Sandy Osborne says

    That dress is F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S! I can’t wait to see Gigi wearing it. You do such beautiful work, Justine!